Wednesday, 18 February 2009

teeth(ing) troubles

February 15th

I always find it difficult to sleep after one of these marathon clubbing nights. Here at the AEE guesthouse I’m awake by seven and can’t get back to sleep. Rwanda doesn’t seem to do decent pillows; the one on my bed is foam rubber and very dense and thick and I’ve woken up because it’s give me a neck ache. I bundle together some towels to make an alternative but, well, you just get to the point where it’s too much trouble to try and get back to sleep. And the other volunteers are clattering about in the corridor.

I’m desperately dehydrated and because I’ve very little money left I’ve not much alternative but to go back to Gitarama straight away. Thank goodness I keep a “get you home” stash of money hidden in my rucksack. It’s certainly proved its worth this weekend!

It’s a boiling hot day. I walk all the way up to the VSO office intending to go on line and cancel my credit cards, but when I arrive there’s no internet connection: the network’s down for the time being. I’ve got a choice of hanging around and hoping the network comes back on, or getting myself back home and arranging something with Teresa when she phones me tonight. I decide the latter is probably the best way forward. I’m glad I did a bit of shopping yesterday, and glad also because it means there can’t have been more than about 3-4000 francs in my wallet (less than $4.50).

Back in Gitarama Tom is cooking up a storm and really doing us proud. We have Christi, Janine and Moses coming for lunch. Moses is an FHI worker, a Rwandan, but he is based just over the border in Burundi. When they hear of my misadventures they’re all very concerned. Moses looks stricken. He tells us that the Kigali police have permission to shoot to kill anyone seen robbing a tourist or muzungu and if I had been able to identify the thief he or she would probably no longer be with us.

We don’t let it spoil our meal. OK folks, how’s this for a feast cooked up on a two and a half burner gas ring and a makeshift oven: carrot and coriander soup accompanied as side dishes by fresh avocado with tomato salsa, home made toasted garlic bread and home made pizza wedges; followed by chilli con carne including refried beans; followed by our fruit salad.

It’s a triumph and it’s all Tom’s work. By the time I get inside the door of the flat a combination of tiredness, heat and dehydration means I have to lie down for an hour and recharge my batteries.

Then the second disaster of the weekend strikes – I crunch into some of the toasted garlic bread and an entire tooth disintegrates inside my mouth. It leaves a jagged edge which as I write this blog (Monday evening) has made my tongue swell and makes swallowing difficult. Just my luck, and six months from any chance to see my own dentist. There’s at least one decent dentist in Kigali; I’m going to see how things go over the next few days but I may have to make an emergency appointment to get the stump of tooth filed down and sealed.

In the afternoon I settle down with a huge bottle of water to get rehydrated and do some school work (translating); I’m not planning to go into work tomorrow morning because I know from past experience I’ll feel sluggish in the morning, and if I can put in the hours at home then nobody can grumble at me.

The evening meal at Nectar takes forever. Thunder’s been banging round all afternoon but we haven’t had a major storm and as for thunder in general, well, we get it every day here. Just as we arrive at the restaurant there’s a power cut. You’d think that in a country where power cuts happen at the drop of a hat, and in a restaurant which relies on lunchtime and evening trade, they’d have a generator as a back up. Well they do, but it takes nearly half an hour to get it going, and then after a few minutes it stops. I think nobody has remembered to put petrol in it, or (just as likely) somebody has “borrowed” the petrol for their moto. We wait and we wait and we wait. We’re using candles and judging by the time it takes to serve us, they could just as easily have been cooking on candles as well. (Not really; they cook on charcoal and the fire shouldn’t have been affected at all. Everything seems slapdash at nectar tonight; the waitresses can barely be bothered to serve us; the usual staff who know us well and bring us our drinks before we’ve even ordered them aren’t on duty. The crowd tonight can hardly drag themselves across from the radio to take down our order.) There’s about ten of us, and that’s with at least five people not able to be there. I meet two Canadians who are working at “Momma’s” orphanage. One of them has read my entire blog from start to finish and probably knows me better than I know myself. It’s a weird feeling to meet a total stranger who seems to know everything I’ve been doing and everywhere I’ve been and many of the people I’ve met…… But she’s kind enough to say she found my comments about weather useful when she was packing clothes before flying here.

We get decidedly mutinous and there’s a consensus that perhaps it’s time to try a different venue for our Sunday night gatherings, but in true committee fashion no hard and fast decision is made.

Back at the flat the weekend really catches up with me and it’s straight to bed.

Best thing about today – Tom’s lunch party. Absolutely top rate.
Worst thing – most of the rest of the day if I’m honest. Losing a tooth out here, and outside of Kigali, is no joke.

No comments: